Thoughts on the Sabbath School Lesson for 11.17.12
Every battle is won or lost before it is fought.
“Opposition lawmakers and human rights groups are criticizing German Chancellor Angela Merkel for claiming that Christianity is ‘the most persecuted religion worldwide.’”
Two questions: Do you agree with Angela Merkel? and Why do you think that statement upset so many people?
I have to say that I agree with Merkel, but on a whole different level. I believe that every Christian, no matter where they live, is persecuted. Now before you get too excited, I’m not necessarily talking about jack-booted thugs breaking down doors and burning Bibles, I’m talking about Satan and his angels and their constant harassment of the children of God.
In some times and places, Satan has actually used those jack booted thugs, but he’s rarely that obvious…to start with, anyway. Life would be much easier if we could see Satan coming, wouldn’t it?
What we get instead is a barrage of innocuous seeming “little things” in our daily lives that will, if we’re not properly protected, pull our attention away from God.
What’s our protection? Paul tells us in Ephesians.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” Ephesians 6:10-18
Wow! That’s a whole lot of protection. Some might say that Christianity isn’t for weaklings. But I believe that following Jesus Christ is only for weaklings, because only after we’ve given up every delusion that we can handle things ourselves are we able to accept the grace of Jesus – our only hope of winning this war.
“There is a warfare in which every soul must engage who ould have the crown of life. Inch by inch the overcomer must fight the good fight of faith, using the weapons of God’s word. He must meet the foe with, ‘It is written.’ He must keep the armory well supplied with, ‘It is written.’ In this way he must meet the advances of the enemy, and educate and train the soul for the still more severe attacks of the foe. Truth, the word of God, faith and righteousness, and the hope of salvation, must be the armor of the successful warrior, and his eyes must be anointed to be keen and sensitive to detect the devices of the enemy. … If God had not made provision by which you might be thoroughly equipped for your warfare with the powers of darkness, then these commands and promises would be but mockery to you, and would tantalize your soul; but our God is true. We may depend upon him under all circumstances. The word of God cannot fail, and in it we are to find our assurance.”
Are you ready to stand for Jesus Christ? Do you have your armor on? Where do we get the armor?
The armor comes with our relationship and knowledge of Jesus Christ as our Savior. We can’t just give lip-service to being Christians and then go do our own thing. Putting on the armor of God can only be done when we accept His complete control over every part of our lives.
Contrary to what many people believe, becoming a Christian will not necessarily make our lives easier and more peaceful. Walking with Jesus brings us into the view of the enemy – the one who hates Jesus (and by extension, His followers) with the white hot hate of jealousy.
In the face of that, we want to be safe, but there is no safety apart from Jesus. Jesus is our only refuge from the wiles of the devil.
Author Erwin McManus writes:
“One summer Aaron went to a youth camp. He was just a little guy, and I was kind of glad because it was a church camp. I figured he wasn't going to hear all those ghost stories, because ghost stories can really cause a kid to have nightmares. But unfortunately, since it was a Christian camp and they didn't tell ghost stories, because we don't believe in ghosts, they told demon and Satan stories instead. And so when Aaron got home, he was terrified.
“‘Dad, don't turn off the light!’ he said before going to bed. ‘No, Daddy, could you stay here with me? Daddy, I'm afraid. They told all these stories about demons.’
“And I wanted to say, ‘They're not real.’
“He goes, ‘Daddy, Daddy, would you pray for me that I would be safe?’ I could feel it. I could feel warm-blanket Christianity beginning to wrap around him, a life of safety, safety, safety.
“I said, ‘Aaron, I will not pray for you to be safe. I will pray that God will make you dangerous, so dangerous that demons will flee when you enter the room.
“And he goes, ‘All right. But pray I would be really, really dangerous, Daddy.’
“Have you come to that place in your own life where you stop asking God to give you a safe life, and make you a dangerous follower of Jesus Christ?”
Christianity is a rough and tumble contact sport. We can’t stand on the sidelines waiting for the game to be over. We have to be out there, in it…but not of it and the only way to do that is to put on the full armor of God and stand with God.
And remember, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1John 4:4
Sun Tzu, Chinese General and Strategist, in The Art of War, written in the late sixth-century BC
 Associated Press, Merkel's 'Christian Persecution' Comments Draw Ire, ABC News, November 6, 2012, http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/merkels-christian-persecution-comments-draw-ire-17651468#.UJzNQ03yofU
 E.G. White, Signs of the Times, December 3, 1894.
 Erwin McManus, "Seizing Your Divine Moment," Preaching Today, Issue 252